“Cow-itch disrupts classes at Blackman Gollop again”


The cow-itch problem continues to make life unbearable for studentsand staff at Blackman  and Gollop Primary School.

Once again, yesterday, the Staple Grove, Christ Church school had to be closed after both children and staff complainedof itchy skin.

As a result of the recurring problem, a number of parents turned up before 11 a.m. to collect their children, hoping to save them the misery which the cow itch could cause. In the dry season, the pods in the vine are blown around by the high winds and can be an extreme irritant.

The school was closed from February 20 to 28 because of problems the cow itch in nearby fields had caused.

Some parents who collected their children were very upset, pointing to the impact it was having on the students’ physical well-being as well as their studies.

Around 10:40 a.m., Nadia Adams drove onto the school’s compound to do a routine check on her children’s well-being.

She told the DAILY NATION she had visited once or twice a week after the school reopened as she was concerned that the cow itch fields were not cleared properly. She said Class 4 pupils in particular would be greatly affected as they were preparing for the 11-Plus Exam whichwas two months away.

Kim Walcott, who arrived a few minutes later, said her daughter Kimara Griffith developed a rash last week and was advised by her doctor not to return to school because of the allergic reaction.

At 11:34 a.m., Adams informed the media the school was officially closed, adding that a notification on a parent WhatsApp group chat was issued.

Within 20 minutes more parents and guardians arrived after receiving calls from teachers informing them of the decision to close because of cow itch.

Hamel Smith, who collected his granddaughter and niece, said the disruption was not good for the children and hoped the issue could be finally fixed.

Ann Spooner, who lives in the nearby St David’s, walked briskly onto the compound to pick up her grandchildren. The 67-year-old said when she was a child, cow itch was not a problem in her community, noting it only became prevalent within the pastten years.

Some people connected to the school said that cow itch had been an issue since it opened in October, 2011 and was particularly bothersome around the sugar harvest.

Efforts to get an audience with principal Petrona Holder were unsuccessful as the school’s guard said she was in an important meeting and unavailable for comment.

It was uncertain whether the school would be reopened today.

Around 4 p.m. parents said fire officers undertook a controlled burning of heaps of cow itch and grass on a nearby field.

A fire official from the Bridgetown Station said four officers and one tender from Worthing, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, burnt cow itch on a pasture oppositethe school. The Thelma Berry Nursery School was reportedly also affected by yesterday’s environmental problems.